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Tokyo 13, U.s. 6, New York 5, Msnbc 5, Japan 4, Us 4, Sendai 4, Fukushima 3, Bronx 3, London 3, Campbell 2, Pam 2, United States 2, Oregon 2, America 2, Virginia 2, Alex 2, United 2, Terra Firma 1, Towne Prepardown 1,
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  MSNBC    MSNBC News Live    News/Business. Live news coverage,  
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    March 12, 2011
    7:00 - 8:00am EST  

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moved through it. it's a sport and it's competitive and these girls they get obsessed with it and they do whatever it takes. >> twisted sisters, we are. breaking news at this hour. fears escalate in japan after an explosion at a nuclear power plant. it happened just a few hours ago. there is a desperate race against the clock as officials try to prevent that reactor from melting down. two of japan's nuclear power plants are in a perilous situation now. there are 11 kilometers apart and on japan's eastern coast. both severely damaged by that 8.9 quake that hit the country on friday. meanwhile, another breaking story to tell you about at this
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hour. take a look at this. a tour bus accident on i-95 in. bronx here in new york. the new york fire department has just confirmed at least 12 people are dead. as you can see, dozens of firefighters and police are there. a frightening scene. it appears this bus tipped over and the top of it slid through one of the posts that holds freeway signs. it appears to be a tour bus ever some kind. trying to learn more about this. as we get more information we'll bring that to you. so a very good morning to you. i'm alex witt. welcome to "msnbc saturday." we'll have more on the bus crash as it becomes available. our other breaking news, an alarming series of developments coming from japan, one day after the strongest earthquake there ever. authorities are bracing for a meltdown at a nuclear plant. an explosion today tore down the walls of one building and sent smoke into the sky. it's not clear if this building houses the reactor.
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officials say two reactors at the plant lost their cooling ability, though. also at this hour, a major rescuest led by the military. japan's prime minister says he is sending 50,000 troops to the hardest hit areas. meanwhile, new tremors continue to shake the region. more than 125 aftershocks have been reported and as of this morning the official death toll stands at 574, but media reports say at least 1,300 people may have been killed. watching the situation from london, with a good morning, what's the latest from there? >> reporter: good morning, alex. as you say, the situation is still developing and details still sketchy. what we know, this japanese nuclear plant has had an explosion. there are a lot of questions now about whether or not it's the roof that's collapsed or the containment building that's collapsed and whether or not the vessel has and the nuclear rods breached. japanese authorities are saying
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that there is serious damage. it's very unlikely, to the nuclear reactor container. we do several workers injured. the radiation has leaked and the evacuation area expanded from 10 clom kilometers to 20. authorities are stopping people at 60 kilometers saying thousands of leaving the area and all cueing up to leave the area. that there are a lot of questions now. serious concerns, questions that aren't yet answered. >> i'm looking at information we're getting with regard to the roof collapse. the fukushima reactor. apparently radiation is equal to amounts allowable in one year? are you getting those reports as well? >> reporter: we're getting reports about the fact that the radiation with the building is actually a lot larger than what's outside at the moment. this is really unclear, because the authorities are saying,
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look, serious damage is unlikely, but a lot of experts are saying this could actually be very serious. this could be -- there are going to be casualties, they will be countless and countle lesless f years to come. >> thank you for that, from london. more breaking news out of japan with the hour. japanese officials warning of more possible tsunamis, urging people to move to higher ground right now. meanwhile, aftershocks happened, powerful and relentless with more than 125 quakes recorded in that area since yesterday. a geophysicists at the u.s. geological facility. good morning. the new tsunami warning. are you surprised they've come with this hour? so long after the ones yesterday? >> well, alex, this is interesting. you know, the tsunami warnings are partly occurring because the waves stick around for a long time. the water sloshes and resonates and inland channels between the
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islands and mainland, for example, and also with aftershocks can be generated by the larger aftershocks. >> and for how long? these aftershocks? i heard yesterday they can continue tore yearfor years. can they elicit tsunamis as well? >> depends on the size of the aftershock, yes. the aftershocks can go on for years. one thing for a magnitude 8.9 main shock it's not unexpected that aftershocks could be magnitude 7.9 and that in its own right could generate a tsunami. the other thing is that underwater slopes have been destabilized by the shaking. so an underwater slump at the time of aftershock or even without an aftershock occurring you could have an underwater slump that would generate a tsunami. they'll be on edge and on tiptoes waiting to see if there are oh tsunamis generated.
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typically it would be from an aftershock. >> talk about being on edge and waiting for things? these nuclear power plants. from a geophysical standpoint, these structuresance obviously have to be built on terra firma. do you know the extent to which they can, you know, withstand any kind of movement? we're talking nuclear power plants here. >> right. and in japan, they're heavily reliant on nuclear power for their whole country. so there are many nuclear reactors throughout japan and, of course, the whole country is an earthquake hazard zone. so these nuclear plants were designed with earthquakes in mind. they were designed to handle ground motions and very large earthquakes. so this is clearly disturbing what we're seeing there. from the latest reports i heard, they're saying they think this was damage to the structure surrounding the reactor vessel. so they don't yet, to my knowledge, have any indication
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that there's a severe leak. so this is something that, of course, they're watching carefully right now. >> you know when you look at the amount of damage there, you know, you think is this as result of the earthquake or the tsunami? can you break that down? is the damage that we're seeing largely because of the tsunami? >> it is. in the low-lying areas of the major city there, closest to the earthquake, it was inundated by the tsunami and the wave as you've seen it came in almost as an infinitely wide river flowing really fast. another way it's described, as a tide that rises quickly and just keeps rising above the normal limit of the high tide. so this is something that we see in other earthquakes as well. the chilean earthquake last year, magnitude 8.8. in that case also the local tsunami was far more damaging
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than the shaking from the earthquake, in some communities. then again, the shaking damp was also severe in other communities. so it was spotty like that, and, of course, the most low-lying areas where the wave height was the greatest, damped most heavily by the tsunami. >> kenneth, can a large earthquake in japan generate another large earthquake on another faultline? perhaps here in the united states? >> well we don't see it quite like that. so it has been an interesting string of events that we've had, the december 2004 sumatra and the indian ocean tsunami, earthquake last year and the sue namty generated and now this one. even though it might not seem sequence dental, we think it is. a string of events in rapid succession so spread out we don't think there's a causal connection between them. it's more or less a random pattern of occurrence. just as humans look up at the night sky and see sons
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installati constellations in the stars we see patterns but don't think that holds up to statistical analysis. there's no reason for concern that the earthquake in japan would trigger a similar earthquake or earthquakes over in this area, but we were talking about the analogy between the earthquake in japan and what could happen in the u.s. the sub duction zone off alaska is similar to the one off japan and the one running from vancouver, canada to eureka in northern california. that's a subduction zone as well and that produce a bigger earthquake like the one in japan and could likely be tsunamigenic. >> grateful for your insights. thank you. from the u.s. geological survey. in one tokyo office building a loud speaker message warned people of the quake two minutes before it struck, but the
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warning in japanese which didn't 4e7 one american who found himself scrambling for coverage at the last minute. this is that man. he's based in tokyo. david, good day. we'll get to your story. i want your reaction to the media reports about the nuclear reactors that are having trouble. >> sure. sure. it's obviously a concern of mine, trying to track the news reports. it's sometimes a little difficult. the japanese government seems to be, obviously, and rightly so, focused on safety issues, but they're waiting until all the information seems to be known. in a position like mine, wondering what next steps to take, there's very lifl that can be done except sit and wait and hope that the preparations you made are sufficient for whatever may come, whether that's an incident with the nuclear facility or with the possibility of more earthquakes. >> yeah.
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david, we should sdplin folks unable to read your articles in the "new york times," you're 6'3". the shaking starts and you are finding yourself diving underneath a child's size desk for cover. tell me what happened. >> sure, sure. a child's desk might be the best way to convey the difference in size between myself and some of the fun dhaer i find here. -- furniture that i find here. the difficulty was just trying to fit under the desk. fortunately things weren't falling in my office around me. i was quite safe, but it's the insecuritiy when you're sitting under your desk and there's nothing that you can do except hope that engineers who worked on the building were doing -- either equations correct and that the building would last. you put your faith in whatever you can find when you're sitting there, but it's a difficult situation to be in.
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>> i can imagine. david, i know you're trying to learn the japanese language but far from proficient at this point. what is that like? you're hearing announcements and the like. did you have a clue what they were saying any time before that quake struck? >> at the time i didn't hear it. i didn't -- it wasn't -- there wasn't an alarm. i didn't know that it was even a loud speaker until someone told me there was a warning. obviously, i would have loved to have some loud alarm that went off, but that wasn't the case. so getting information now, i rely on people i know in the government, news sources. you try and piece together the best information that you can and try to make decisions based on that. >> yeah. real quick. once the quake was done what did you do? went down about 11 flights of stairs? was it an orderly procedure? were people panicking? tell me what that was like getting outside?
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>> sure. sure. there were actually two quakes. after the first one we got up and looked around and saw what was going on. and i tried to get an understanding what people in the office were either told to do or what they were doing, and we looked outside and there was a large fire. at that point when we were looking at the fire that was across town, another earthquake came, and when that happened, after that was finished, i had enough. i got a colleague, a colleague and i left, and as we were walking down, everyone seemed to have these white construction hats to protect themselves from, i guess, whatever could happen. >> hmm. >> i didn't -- i wasn't lucky enough to have one, but it wasn't -- i don't feel that would have saved me if things were to happen to the building. >> david abraham, we are awful glad to be speaking with you and do take care and thank you for your insights. boy, that experience must be something else. thank you, david. best of luck. >> thank you. most areas along the u.s. west coast escaped damage from the tsunami that traveled all
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the way from japan but parts of the oregon coast will feel the effects. the coastal town of seaside where residents are back home this morning. many forced to evacuate yesterday because of the tsunami fears. docks and several boats damaged in brookings, oregon. the fierce waves also crashed into crescent city, california. that's where one man was swept out to sea. and the coast guard says it is likely he will not be found alive. water rushed into the harbor there to strike about 35 boats. marina workers and fishermen scrambled to secure property in between the surges. do look at this. a tour bus accident in i-95 in. bronx here in new york. the new york fire department confirmed at least 12 people are dead, and you can see it right there. dozens of firefighters, police on the scene. a frightening one. it appears the bus tipped over and the top of slid through one of the posts that holds freeway
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signs. again, this appears to be a tour bus of some kind. we are trying to get more information. the details from the crash in the pelham section of the bronx. when we get the news we'll bring to you. meantime, stay with us. the motorola xoom tablet. the first tablet powered by android 3.0, with a 3-d interface and a widescreen hd display. grab it and it grabs you. only at verizon. ♪ four decadent flavors. 60 calories. it's me o'clock -- time for jell-o.
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an american navy carrier is heading to japan today to help spearhead the international relief efforts. "uss bluehouse." the president ordered the aircraft carrier "ronald reagan" to the disaster zone. new this morning, japan is doubling the evacuation area surrounding a power plant facing a meltdown. a reactor plant in the fukushima northeast coast.
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more than 51,000 people who live near it have been evaevacuated. let's get now to the main concerns and the dangers posed by the situation. >> reporter: well, what they're worry about, alex, is first of all, there was an explosion at that plant this morning. it is the fukushima plant, two nuclear plants with ten miles of each other. there was an explosion. they're trying to figure out what building exploded. local government officials say it was the reactor. it was a building housing the reactor. that would be really bad news, but japanese officials say, no, it wasn't. they say the reactor, there's one reactor in particular, the number one rackreactor where prs rising, no damage done to that buildsing and that certainly would be good news. they also say, this is just crossing the wires from the associated press, that the radiation around the plant did not rise after the blast, and,
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in fact, the pressure in that troubled reactor is going down. that would be a good sign, because when pressure rises in a nuclear reactor, that means the temperature rises. and when that happens, that puts the fuel inside at risk of melting. if that fuel melts, then you have a rupture and then you have release of a large amount of radioactivity into the environment and what's called a meltdown. that's what japanese are desperately trying to avoid. that's what's happening at the fukushima one plant. at the fukushima two plant they also have issues with the reactor. this is a very tenuous situation. you can imagine, they're trying to recover from an earthquake and tsunami and now have to deal with the potential of a nuclear meltdown. >> well, they do, anne, all with the parameters of the 125 aftershocks, which promise it keep on coming, how much danger does that pose to be able to
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contain all of this? >> reporter: well, i mean, look, japan is used to earthquakes. certainly not of this magnitude. it is -- japanese nuclear officials bragged about how they are prepared for an earthquake. this is really putting that preparation to the task, and the fact that the cooling systems failed which is at the heart of this problem, allowing pressure and temperature to rise and allowing that fuel to get hotter, that is certainly something they're going to look at. once they get past this immediate danger. >> anne thompson in london. thank you very much. i'm sure we'll speak with you again this morning. adding to that tense situation in japan, 100-plus aftershocks we were discussing, they've hit that region. for more on what to expect in days ahead, i'm joined by the discovery channel's author of "preparedness now." did i get it right jt aton? so here's the question.
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you can try to prepare for something like this. >> uh-huh. >> how effective can you really be for a magnitude 8.9 earthquake? >> depends on if you're talking about civilian population or the infrastructure. because the infrastructure is pushing it towards the limits. when you start talking about earthquake as a magnitude of that size, a great quake. anything over magnitude 8 is a great quake, it's very difficult to prepare an infrastructure for that. you have to build everything that corresponds with that level of an intense earthquake. nobody's going to build anything to that -- try to build something that can withstand 8.9. theoretically, impossible. but you can prepare the civilian population. really, you can really, really do a lot in terms of the civilian side. in terms of their preparedness. for instance, with react ors, people living near there have potassium, a thyroid blocker one of the by-products of nuclear
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fishing, radioactive. if you have that on hand you don't have to worry about dealing with thyroid and cancer and all that stuff that comes from radiation exposure. so you can help and prepare the civilians. the more the civilians are prepared the but eveetter off t system is. >> this kind of stuff you're talking about, is that the stuff people can individually get their hands on or governments have to issue? >> absolutely. even here in the united states, with 22 miles of the union point facility. they were getting potassium tablets for free. i hope japanese are doing the same thing for the people in the area. with the peak injury, which you call it. this is something can you do. preparing the civilian population is the thing to help minimize the damage to the system, because the more civilians that are prepared the less responders have to focus on them. >> we're going to dip into your expertise throughout the
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♪ sam we'll make that work. breaking newsat this hour with the death toll, at least 13 people are dead in a tour bus accident on i-95 in the bronx, new york. that bus tipped and skidded on to its side and right into a sign pole. carrying 31 to 33 passengers. 6 surviving passengers critically injured. 4 transferred to hospitals. others sustained minor injuries. the latest coming live in the next half hour. stay with us. good way? you won't believe what windows phone can do... and what your old phone can't. get the only phone with office, xbox live and thousands of apps. get a windows phone for $99.99 at at&t.
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30 past the hour. with more on the tense situation unfolding in japan one day after the strongest earthquake on record his there. ian swms live in tokyo. with a good day, ian.
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what's the latest you're hearing about the threat of a meltdown at those nuclear plants? >> reporter: well, that's right. i mean, if things weren't bad enough here in japan, seeing the full extent of the destruction today, we have a nuclear disaster in the making, if you believe some of the observers. there was an explosion today as a nuclear plant. we saw it, and it seemed really chilling on television. a plume of smoke appearing to engulf a nuclear power plant. now, the government is saying there is not a serious radiation leakage from that plant, but they have evacuated thousands of people from around it with a radius of 12 miles. now, five reactors in two plants were shot down after the earthquake, because of the coolant system being effected as a result of problems with the electricity supply. we have been assured that the experts were coming to terms with this, but then today we have this abrupt reversal which
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has clearly shaken a lot of people, although the official line coming out of the government is that it is under control, but the breach was in an outer wall in the roof, that there isn't serious radiation leakage, but there had been leakage and clearly there is serious concern about what's going to happen at this plant, alex. >> yeah. i'm looking at information released by the prime minister's office there, and they say that in order to evacuate residents are given a designated site or shelter. municipalities are working with other authorities to figure out the best transportation memds, best evacuation sites. have you heard anything about trouble on the roads or any panic situation there? or are the japanese kind of in the last 24 hours, been very orderly about all this as best they can? >> reporter: i think you're right. there is an orderliness about it. don't forget, japan is incredibly well prepared.
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in many respects they've been preparing for a disaster like this for years. every knew the country was and is vulnerable to these sort of earthquakes and tsunamis. that said, this was a biggy. it was an enormous earthquake, 8.9 and of course an enormous tsunami that followed. a lot of people are in shelters receiving a lot of bake support. one issue we discovered ourselves today is the real problem of getting around. our intention when we flew in, when the airport reopened, was to get to the north, but the roads are damaged in some places. comple completely chop block full of cars and it's taken hours to get down here from the main airport. it's taking more than two hours. that's a major of the real problem that the relief operation is facing, alex.
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>> you know, eian, that's your perspective. you're in tokyo trying to get back and forth reporting. the average person, we see traffic going on normally behind you. heard a loud motorcycle passing by during this live shot. for people in tokyo, is it business as usual? >> reporter: i think tokyo was shaken. people here are used to quakes. they have them all the time, but not of this sort of scale. and i think coming back here and talking to friends, talking to colleagues, everybody was shaken by this. people talk about it being like nothing they've lived through before. even though most have experienced earthquakes. and now, of course, they're looking to the north, to the northeast, looking at the disaster that's unfolding, and people are shocked by the images they're seeing. they're shocked by the destruction. the way the waves came ashore
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and the damage done to the northeast corner of this country. yes, there is a feeling of normality here in tokyo, but this has shaken this city and certainly shaken japan in many different ways, al leexalex. >> i can imagine. thank you. also in tokyo, more of the frightening pictures of the earthquake in tsunami. here's that report. >> reporter: the quake hit at 2:46 in the afternoon tokyo time. in the middle of what witnesses called a beautiful, calm day. terrified business workers scrambled to safety when the tremors hit. debris and office equipment falling everywhere. in the streets, chaos as residents tried to dodge bricks and glass crashing to the ground.
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japan is no stranger to earthquakes with reinforced building designs like nowhere else in the world. but this one was a monster measuring a magnitude of 8.9, one of the strongest in the country's history. an american university professor in tokyo on business told us the tremors were relentless. >> the shaking got worse and worse. i don't know exactly how long it lasted. it seemed like it went on forever. >> reporter: the country's prime minister naoto khan immediately issued an emergency response plan. then came the warning and the wave. a chilling preview of the disaster to come. the target, the city of sendai, some 200 miles east of tokyo. hundreds reported missing there. an unbelievable sight, the force of the swirling water sucking boats into its center. reports of at least one vessel
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missing with 100 people aboard. the tsunami hit with incredible force. the sludge sweeping away everything in its path. this wall of water and mud some 30 feet high washed across the low-lying coastal areas. entire towns swept away. thick and brown strewn with debris, fast-moving, farmlands quickly disappeared. entire major roads, bridges and homes, got in a matter of minutes. the report that sendai was completely destroyed. workers and others scrambled atop rooftops trying to stay above the mud. a huge fire at an oil refinery in tokyo continues to burn. at least 80 other massive fire, still burning along the coastline after the quake cut off gas lines causing a series of explosions leaving homes and businesses ablaze. h power is out throughout parts of the country and mass transit is
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down. inship places trains derailed. with daybreak, the search for dead and injured of this disaster is just beginning. not to mention the cleanup which will likely take months, if not years. >> the kind of report that you can barely breathe through, right? one thing after the next. thanks to our reporter there. today the nightmare continues for those yet to hear from loved ones who may have been caught in the path of that deadly tsunami. one family in washington state waiting for news of their son who taught at the school in japan. he lived in the port town of sendai, of course, one of the hardest hit areas. >> he's a very kind-hearted wonderful man, and i just try and picture him taking care of the kids and that they're all okay. >> his parents are hoping their son was far enough inland to survive the tsunami. already 300 bodies found in
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sendai. a team of specialists are headed to japan to help search for survivors. the 72 member team from fairfax, virginia was mobilized friday after that tremendous earthquake. the virginia task force is one made up of search and rescue canine, structural engineers and paramedics. >> we're matching a lot like the katrina scenario with new orleans. where we got flooded assets. our biggest concern are aftershocks that occur, even large ones that could cause additional tsunamis while there. >> this task force was deployed last year after the quake in haiti. and officers aboard the "uss blueridge" arrived in singapore with supplying to hoffer humanitarian assistance. that ship is expected in tokyo later today and the "uss ronald reagan" is ready to offer help if directed to do so. i'm joined by msnbc military
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analyst retire colonel jacobs. good morning. >> good morning. >> what is the biggest military challenge? immediate aftermath of a devastating quake like this? >> people stranded by the tsunami, all the water inland in buildings that can't be reached or on top of buildings, roofs, can't be reached except by helicopter. they need to be extracted and taken to shelters. second, people in shelters who don't have food, water and blankets and the united states can help provide that as well. but the single biggest problem is health. the health hazard of all this water inland that has ruptured sewage lines is an immediate danger to the health of the people who are there and all these people need to be inoculated against cholera, typhoid and fife is, because in a short time an epidemic without assistance. >> another danger, of course, the series of nuke letter reactors that lost power during this quake. with regard to the u.s. military
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and these men and women going right into the eye of the storm here, are they prepared in nuclear melt towne prepardown p? do you know what to do? >> yes, you can teach in areas like that. if there's a danger zone, very bad news indeed and the entire place would undoubtedly be evacuated including people who are trying to fix it. the meltdown might occur only if the internal vessel is breached. they work because they stick nuclear rods into water. that heats the water. water turns to steam, drives turbines which then generate electricity. what happened here is that, not that the -- earthquake ruined the reactor. it's the giant sue nam they resu tsunami that knocked out electrical power and the pumps
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that pump water over the fuel rods to keep them cool. don't forget, they generate heat that turns into steam. to keep them k5cool, they stopp. the reactors were also swamped. it took them a long while to get third generators in the air to get water pump to keep the place cool, not before it looks like there was an overheating situation in reactor one. >> look at the cloud here. if we can have my director put that back up. any chance there's radio activity in that cloud? >> almost undoubtedly there's radioactive cesium, mildly raise yo active but probably not a lot of it. it is radioactive but it's -- and it's not concentrated so it's drifting away. an explosion like that indicates that some part of the facility has been breached, and don't forget also that as the core
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heated up and they couldn't cool it, they had to probably release some radioactive vapor just to keep the pressure down as the core gets hotter and hotter, the pressure builds up. pressure builds up too much and you don't release at least some of the vapor, there's a great danger the entire thing will explode. that's what they're trying to prevent. it's difficult to tell right now at what stage that reactor is. we are told that the core is starting to consume do ining to. that means there won't be a meltdown. it remains to be seen whether or not they're actually pumping enough water into the core to keep it from melting down. we'll hear about that soon. >> okay, colonel jack, many thanks. appreciate your insights. about 2.5 hours ago a deadly bus accident in the bronx here in new york. at least 13 people are dead. we're going to bring you more information on that right after a short break on "msnbc saturday."
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right now we are close and following an explosion at a japanese nuclear facility already at risk of a meltdown. it's unclear whether it was at the reactor or another building but we know four workers have been injured. scientists working to lower the temperature after the cooling system was damaged. back here in it's states, the effects of the earthquake felt along the orange county coastline. knbc in los angeles, our reporter has more. >> reporter: officially they called it a tsunami advisory, but harbor patrol boats quickly took to the water checking on vessels and moorings. even the coast guard was standing by just in case. >> a few inches, maybe a half foot reported here in newport harbor and there's been some activity in danpoint. >> reporter: as a precaution, newport beach elementary was closed for the day. its playground sits on the sand. to the south, laguna's main
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beach was shut down. many low-lying spots that couldn't be counted on to contain unexpected water. this beach, too, had no choice but to keep people away from the aware's edge. instead they gathered and watched and waited. as the morning wore an, robby dey became less and less concerned. >> not as much as this morning when some guy said get your stuff and get out. my neighbor. >> reporter: the county activated its emergency operation center, and along the coast, officials kept the beaches clear. the planned evacuation route is posted up and down ocean street beginning at the san gabriel river, a plan in place for years. >> for us, trying to keep people educated. trying to keep communicating with everybody who did come to watch as to why we closed the beach and the pier. just illicit their participation and support. our goal just to make sure everybody was safe. >> reporter: later in the day
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businesses like rube y's at the end of the pier was still closed i. couldn't tell you what the loss would be today. the most important thing, everyone's safe. >> vicki vargas reporting. the cleanup continues in parts of hawaii, water rushed up into roadways and right up into hotel lobbies in the big island, particularly hilo. at the concern of a meltdown at the nuclear reactors find more information and see it on our website, msnbc.com. back to our other breaking news this hour, at least 13 people are now dead in a tour bus accident on i-95 in the bronx here in new york. the bus skidded and slidded into a pole. carrying 31 to 33 passengers. 6 passengers critically injured 11 others sustained minor injuries. more on that live coming up. stay with us. you're watching a very busy "msnbc saturday." [ female announcer ] water was meant to be perfect.
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the disaster in japan is having an impact on oil prices. the cost of crude is down on predictions the earthquake will limit demand in the country. japan is second only to the united states in use of oil per day. still, they say the rebuilding could lead to a surge in demand. so we have this disaster in japan. we have political upheefl in the arab world, maureen. all of this has got to be affecting the fuel prices in the u.s. if so, how? >> you're seeing it right now at the pumps. all the unrest in the middle east right now is causing traders around the world to bid up the price of oil. they're speculating that there could be a major disruption, so because of that we've seen oil spike to the price of gas spike 42 cents in the last month. >> painful as it is, let's look at what aaa reports for these price peps we have a full screen to put up. average price of gas is $3755 a
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gallon. one month ago, it was $3.12 a gallon. that's one month ago. last year, it was $2.98. how much of this is speculation and fear? is there a breakdown that way? >> much of it is driven by speculation, the fact that maybe something could happen in saudi arabia. that could disrupt the world's supply. we haven't seen that much of a change in supply. libya produces a small percent of the world's oil. >> like 2%. >> exactly. but it's more the fear that something could happen. we're in an economic recovery right now. americans are going back to work, they're going out to eat, they're going out to shop. that is driving up the price of oil a bit. mostly, it's the speculation that something could happen. >> something like this is inevitable it's going to get political. we have house speaker john boehner blaming the obama administration.
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>> they've canceled new leases for exploration, jeopardized our nuclear energy industry and imposed a de facto moratorium on future drilling in our country. >> last year, american oil production reached its highest lifl level since 2003. so any notion that my administration has shut down oil production might make for a good sound bite, but it doesn't match up with reality. >> what is your reaction to that? >> oil is political. yesterday the president said if need be he would tap the oil reser reserves. so he's in a position where he could drive down oil prices. i think if oil gets near $4 a gallon, he would do what it takes because we're in a fragile recovery right now. he's not going to let this erase the recovery that we're in. >> how long do you think we have until we might see some gas prices? >> economists say it's going to be the summer. it's the summer driving season.
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oil prices will probably push up until then. >> so we're going to be paying for it for the next -- we're in mid march, we have three months until the summer driving season? >> economists say we could see it push up near $4 a gallon. so yeah, for the next few months, expect to may more at the pump continually. but if it gets near there, i think americans are going to see some relief somehow. the president will make that happen. >> okay. maureen, i don't really like the news, but we appreciate your being here, nonetheless. >> thank you for having pe. >> the death toll in japan is expected to rise and there is concern of a nuclear power plant. we're taking you back to japan in just a moment. oh boy... i used our slate card with blueprint. we can design our own plan to avoid interest by paying off diapers and things each month. and for the bigger stuff, we can pay down our balance faster to save money on interest. bigger? bigger. announcer: chase slate with blueprint helps you save money on life's little surprises.
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call lending tree at... today. ♪ [ male announcer ] unrestrained. unexpected. and unlike any hybrid you have ever known. ♪ introducing the most fuel-efficient luxury car available. ♪ the radically new... 42 mile per gallon ct hybrid from lexus. ♪ welcome to the darker side of green. approaching the top of the hour with breaking news this morning. a deadly tour bus crash in in, thi new york city. at least 13 are dead. and fears of a nuclear meltdown in japan after an

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